Doctor Who and the Retail Time Warp

Step through the threshold of department stores like Target or Wal-Mart and you find yourself transported to a time that is not your own.

When snow slicks the parking lot, frost glazes the windshields, and little kids turn into wobbling, wind-resistant cocoons with eyes-- inside these capsules of consumerism you will discover a land of bright bikinis... beach bags... charcoal grills and swizzle sticks.

Or in the steamy days of summer, when sweat runs in rivulets and the bra-straps of the populace get a good public airing-- inside the realm of retail, school supplies remind us darkly that freedom is fleeting... hairy sweaters smother standing displays... and, wait-- is that a faint jingle of sleigh bells we hear underlying the Muzak?

How is this possible?

Well, yes, of course you could say that it's corporate greed, plain and simple.

But do these manufacturing giants really believe that we will stand shivering in a changing room, swimsuit pressed against pasty-white, with the taste of Christmas fruitcake still lingering on our hips... er, lips?

Do they really believe we'll have an itch to shrug into that 100% wool sweater while the chlorine from Sandcastle Water Park still scents our skin?

I think it's proof of the existence of Doctor Who.

Yep. The way I see it, Target's mysterious seasonal shift forward is actually an unfortunate residue resulting from repeated alien invasion of the planet and resetting of the space-time continuum, to protect our human minds!...

Months of oppression under evil extra-terrestrial overlords!...

And the good Doctor, putting things right for all of us and wiping our minds clean of the terrors once more.

Ever feel like you've been working at the same stupid stuff for months, even though you know it couldn't possibly be that long?

Ever feel like you're life's at a complete stand-still, and you're going nowhere, and you don't know where your motivation went?

Well, there you go! That's the effects of Repeated Earthling Enslavement and Time-Foolery!

And while the Doctor is clearly very, very good at what he does... Unfortunately, he just hasn't figured out how to set shop inventory back to the correct season.

It's truly the only decent theory that explains why stores would believe I'd be interested in snow boots and a shovel for the Fourth of July.

Still unconvinced? Well, just you walk around your favorite department store this weekend, and see if there isn't something to this.

Resistance is futile, you know. Time for a nice big cup of hot cocoa. And pass me that gingerbread man, would you?


Today's questions: What's the most surprising off-season item you spotted in stores? And have you ever bought something totally off-season for later?

Also-- is it me, or is Christmas now starting somewhere in September? Didn't it used to be after Thanksgiving?



Anonymous said...

I have a variety of what I consider to be awesome toques (south of the border I believe you call them... actually, I'm not sure. It's a winter hat). Anyway, I tend to pick those up before the cold arrives. As for my wife, she does all kinds of shopping before the season arrives–no matter the season.

And yes, I too have noticed that Christmas starts earlier every year.

Jenn Thorson said...

Chowner- Heh- I'm getting images of this unicorn with a knit hat on, a hole cut out for the horn. :)

stillthinking said...

You are not mistaken. Christmas does indeed start in September. I am actually counting on a September Christmas hiring as it allows me to find employment far below my skill level. Money is money though and I am in no place to be picky.

When I worked home accessory retail, we would regularly trot out clearance Christmas merchandise for our Labor Day Sale. People thought they were getting an advance peak into Christmas merchandise, and we got to mark up old merchandise back to full price. Sneaky, yes. Weirdly effective though.

Jenn Thorson said...

Still- Your Labor Day "Christmas Preview" explains though why a friend of mine found more of her Christmas dishes then, but not during the rest of the Christmas season.

ettarose said...

It's all about the money and that is all. Here it is July and I cannot find a Tetherball set anywhere. So stupid.

Jenn Thorson said...

Ettarose- You know, that's true-- when you finally realize you want whatever the seasonal item is... it's completely gone from the stores. They've moved on to a whole other decade of existence.

ReformingGeek said...

So that's what this feeling is. I'm so glad The Doctor is trying to set things right. But if it's retail we're concerned about, the companions will have to jump in as the doctor seems to struggle with a simple wardrobe and basic furnishings in the TARDIS.

Thanks for the laugh!

Jenn Thorson said...

Reforming Geek- I guess it depends on which Doctor we're talking about.

Hopefully the trend in stores won't become really really long scarves you could trip over or get caught in automatic doors.

Of course, we could also start seeing a lot of pin-striped suits and Chucks basketball sneakers as a combo. :)

Augusto said...

This crazy retail syndrome also results in the situation that if one finds one's self in need of a current season item, they have long ago been sold off at the clearance aisle.

Just try to find a bathing suit in July.

Jenn Thorson said...

Augusto- Yep, you're so right. Once I needed more summer flowers for... summer. I was totally out of luck. They were out and had moved on by the time I went for them.

Leeuna said...

O! MY! GOSH! Only 155 more shopping days left until Christmas. I need to get busy!

(No wonder we feel like time is flying by. Everything is so far ahead of schedule.)

chyna aka the humbug kid said...

The offspring and I were in Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago for summer crafts and what was that in the seasonal dept? Why Christmas decorations!!! For crying out loud summer has barely arrived here in the Northern lower 49 and already they want the snow back! Mind boggling.

I think the Dr needs to look into why retailers start so soon. there has to be some sort of mind control involved. I will shop for the following year when stuff goes on clearance but paying full price just to get a jump on it? Nope not I!!

Anonymous said...

In crafts publishing, you usually need to user test the sweater patterns and cross-stitch stockings for Christmas and January sometime in May, when you're finally writing the instructions. (The projects have to be in the magazine by September/October along with the pumpkin crafts so people see the patterns as a workable effort.) Thanksgiving projects (small Puritans made with clothespins to craft along with the homeschooled set, and ideas for candle decorations for the dinner table) come out in October too (but they can be written in August). While everyone else is enjoying skiing in January, I would be manically trying to figure out what the hot colors for bathing suits would be to create jewelry colorways for macrame for the pre-summer issue that would come out sometime in May.

I think the good Doctor was having some fun with the company when I worked there. But then again, it had a website, so every so often the pages would go away and we'd have to build them again. But I do miss the days when I _had_ to sit and knit for my living. Or I spent 3 hours finishing a necklace because we needed photos of it in stages of completion. Fun!

Melanie said...

Jenn, thank you! You've cleared up so much fuzziness in my mind by explaining "Repeated Earthling Enslavement and Time-Foolery" I thought it was just me. Whew!

I bought my daughter new Christmas socks (I don't understand the need for them, but she likes them) the day after Christmas on clearance. Will be giving them to her for her birthday next week. How's that for "off-season"?!?!?

Jenn Thorson said...

Leeuna- Don't get left behind in the Christmas rush!-- (heh-heh)

Chyna- Yes, I think mind control is definitely a possibility. Let's hope the Doctor is on it. (And that there's a mini-series with David Tennant involved. :) )

Wordtapestry- Print magazines have the same sorts of far-ahead deadlines. You almost need to start thinking about your potential Christmas posts in February. :)

Melanie- Glad to have helped! Just one more service we provide here at Cabbages.

PS- The Christmas socks-- are they Christmassy-patterned, or just lovely wooly socks to wear in winter. I myself am a huge fan of the latter!

Da Old Man said...

They do indeed rush the holidays to take advantage of the forgetful. We buy gifts and forget where we put them. So we have to buy more.

BTW, Merry Christmas.

jay said...

"Resistance is futile" - that would be the Borg.

Still, they probably have a cybernetic hand in it, too, shouldn't wonder.

Skye said...

Thanks Jenn, you've made a whole bunch of stuff make sense! Including why my whole town seems to have a "Christmas In July Sale" going on. Some of the stores have taken this so far that they've got decorated Christmas trees up with wrapped boxes underneath them.

What ever happened to the good ole days when things were sold in season? I have to admit that it was very strange going into a store last weekend and finding bathing suits in one eisle and christmas decorations in the next!

chyna said...


Did you see that there is a new Dr? This guy is barely out of high school! I missed the last episode so I'm hopeless lost on how that happened or why. And we have to wait until next spring for the new series on SyFy.

What would the Dr say about this?!!!!

Jenn Thorson said...

Da Old Man- Thanks, and Happy Easter! :)

Jay- Ack- yes, I was thinking of Cybermen, but wrongly, and the Dalek "Exterminate!" didn't fit well. :)

Skye- Oh, wow, they really did bust out the Christmas stuff, huh? I knew it was getting close. Kids have only been out of school for a month and already it's Back To School. The poor chillins! :)

Chyna- Yes, I know about the young Doctor, though haven't seen him in action. I'm still attached to David Tennant, so it's going to be very hard to 1.) Have a new Doctor and 2.) Respect a Doctor that is too young to even have a PhD. :)

Think the next Doctor will be a grade-schooler? :)

hindleyite said...

Fact: from September to December 25, advent calendars cost full whack. They don't even knock some pennies off for every day in December that's already passed.

When shops open again on 26th, THEY ARE ALL HALF PRICE! This is why I now have my Christmas in January.